The Swedish Chef is the incomprehensible preparer of foodstuffs from The Muppet Show. A rather literal variation of the live-hand Muppet concept, the Swedish Chef is a humanoid character, with human hands rather than gloves.
The Swedish Chef was a regular among the Muppets in The Muppet Show. His sketches in it began with him singing his signature song in a trademark mock Swedish, a semi-comprehensible gibberish which parodies the characteristic vowel sounds of Swedish. After this introduction, the Chef continues to speak gibberish while preparing a particular recipe. His commentary is spiced with the occasional English word to clue the viewer into what he is attempting.
In episode 316, Danny Kaye, portraying the chef's uncle in a sketch, claims that the Swedish Chef's first name is Tom. However, since Kaye was not a blood relative, in reality, this information may be considered apocryphal. Many years later on The Muppets, Christina Applegate misinterprets his name as Megan in "Bear Left Then Bear Write", when he was actually just saying, "me, me."
According to Brian Henson in one of his introductions for The Muppet Show, Jim Henson had this tape that he used to play which was 'How to Speak Mock Swedish':
He used to drive to work and I used to ride with him a lot. And he would drive to work trying to make a chicken sandwich in Mock Swedish or make a turkey casserole in Mock Swedish. It was the most ridiculous thing you had ever seen. And people at traffic lights used to stop and sort of look at him a little crazy. But that was the roots of the character that would eventually become the Swedish Chef.
Jim Henson had previously explored the idea of a funny foreign chef at the US Food Fair that took place in Hamburg, Germany in 1961, where Sam and Friends character Omar prepared a flaming salad while speaking in some quite comprehensible mock German that Henson and Jerry Juhl had previously scribbled down in phonetics.
The Chef's gibberish gained a life of its own with the creation of a Unix filter capable of converting standard English to Chefspeak in 1992. The filter quickly became a staple of hacker culture and eventually spread to the mainstream with Swedish Chef translators on several Web sites such as Google. In 2003, Opera Software published a special Bork version of its internet browser that turned the MSN Web site into mock Swedish. Mozilla Firefox also contains a popular add-on called Bork Bork Bork! that allows the selective translation of text from Web pages of the user's choice.
While The Swedish Chef normally has live human hands, he also occasionally has Muppet hands.
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